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Russell wins again, takes Sportsman Division lead

Justin "Bud" Russell wins for the second week in a row to take a lead in the Sportsman Division at River City Speedway


Whatever slump might have been ailing the two-time defending Sportsman Division champion seems to be firmly in the rear view mirror.

Bud Russell won his second consecutive main event at River City Speedway on Aug. 16, stringing together a pair of wins for the first time since taking the first two races of the season in mid-May.

Finally, after months of waiting in the wings, Russell is back in the lead.

Dan Smith's second-place finish in the trophy dash ahead of Russell was the only instance in which the former points leader crossed the finish line ahead of the No. 28 Chevrolet, falling to seventh in the main race and seventh in the third heat, opening the door for Russell to leap to the top of the Sportsman Division with the racetrack's biggest event quickly approaching.

The Two Day Race, which River City Speedway will host on Aug. 30 and 31, will be one of the final obstacles between Russell and his third consecutive Sportsman Division title. After the Two Day Race, only one weekend of racing remains before the scheduled championships on Sept. 20.

It may be the last gas for Dan Fox, Joel Beehler and Brad Beehler, who sat in third, fourth and fifth places respectively coming into the races on Aug. 16. Joel Beehler and Brad Beehler finished first and second in their heat, but none of the top-five placed in the main event aside from Russell himself.

In Street Stock, it's turning into a neck-and-neck clash between Justin McMullen and Cody Smith. When the green flag dropped, McMullen held a 27-point edge in the division standings, but once the dust had settled, Smith was a mite closer. McMullen, now with a cushion of less than 20 points, is within easy striking distance should Smith have a good weekend with extended action planned for the end of August after taking the main race, the fast time, and second-place finishes in both the dash and his heat.

The 4-Cylinder Division finally saw John Oyler breakthrough for a win in the division main, topping John Henry and points leader Crystal Flath after finishing in the middle of the pack for the last several weeks. Oyler also snatched the trophy dash and set the fast time at 16:446 seconds – the second-fastest time of the month behind Chris Gadboury Jr.'s mark of 16.159 seconds from Aug. 2.

Once again, Greg Lane continued to stay on form in the Pacific Mini-Sprints Division, winning all but the dash and widening the gap between himself and Mike Opoka Sr. Lane flattened the competition in the heat and took the main race with ease, also setting the fast time of 13.161, still more than a half-second slower than his own lap record of 12.49 seconds.

Don Jenner picked up his second consecutive victory in the Modified Division, hoping to play spoiler for Cody Jones, who leads the division, but by a steadily shrinking margin. In the outing on Aug. 2, Jenner was forced to rebound after finishing dead last in his heat, but on Aug. 16, he didn't need any such rally.

This time, it was all Jenner from the get-go. Jenner won the dash and his heat, setting up for and capitalizing on a good position for the main event. Jones, however, fell to fifth in the main but still managed to stay just ahead of Brian Blasier, who sits in second place in the season standings.

Scott Dorie, though he won only a single event on Saturday evening, did just enough to hang on to his lead in the Pacific Hardtop Division, taking the trophy dash, finishing second in his heat and third in the main race. Joe Eaton responded well to a last-place finish in the second heat to take the main race ahead of Lucas Eaton, but all eyes will be on rookie Gary Brogan in the No. 81 car as the season comes down the final stretch. Brogan hasn't come up with a victory so far this summer, but has managed to gather enough nickels and dimes to be heavily included in the discussion leading up to the championships in September. Not only did Brogan set the fast time of 14:780, he also took second in the trophy dash and won the heat – over Dorie, Lucas Eaton and Joe Eaton. He's now only 14 points behind Dorie for the division lead.

In the Tracer Division, it was Dillon Matthieu snapping a month-long skid to top the main race on Saturday. Mattieu now takes a three-point lead over Kylee Dorie, who entered the weekend as the points leader but fell to fourth in the main event.